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Genevieve Quigley has come a long way—from riding her bike through the new suburban streets of Tuggeranong to interviewing global celebrities like Beyonce, Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey.
Genevieve is Associate Editor of Sunday Life magazine, which focuses on women’s interests and issues, and celebrates women’s achievements. The weekly magazine is part of the Nine stable of newspapers and entertainment.
It’s a far cry from her Canberra childhood, but Genevieve will always hold fond memories of growing up in the bush capital.
“Canberra was a fabulous place to grow up. I think we were in one of the first houses in Tuggeranong at the time. It was like living in the bush and the city. Weekends were spent climbing mountains, riding our bikes to Kambah Pool, swimming in the river, going yabbying in the dams,” says Genevieve.
“We played street cricket, nobody got dropped off to school by their parents, everyone just rode bikes or walked. It was a country upbringing in some ways, but things started to change as Tuggeranong just grew and grew,” she says.
After attending Daramalan College, Genevieve worked in the public service briefly before going to the Australian National University, where she studied for four years.
“I did arts and science because I had no idea what I wanted to do. Whenever I’d get my essays back, the criticism from the lecturer was ‘you write like a journalist’. It happened a few times and it was definitely not a compliment! So then I thought, maybe that’s what I’d like to do,” she says.
“In the mid-90s, magazines were huge. I didn’t see myself as a hard-news journalist but writing for a magazine looked like fun. I wrote to every magazine I knew, asking for work experience and only one got back to me. It was Who Weekly. They offered me work for three months—and 23 years later I’m still working as a journalist,” she says.
Genevieve moved into entertainment journalism and worked for TV Hits magazine at its peak in the late 1990s. Many teenagers’ bedroom walls were plastered with TV Hits posters featuring the stars of television and pop music. Genevieve then became editor of Smash Hits at the age of 25, another hugely popular music magazine of the 1990s and early 2000s’.
“It was so much fun, I can’t believe they paid me. It was as much fun as you can imagine. Magazines were selling really well then, so the pressure wasn’t like it is now.”
“We’d interview people who were just starting out in the entertainment industry. I remember being asked to do a phone interview with someone named Beyonce. I knew nothing about her, except she was with Destiny’s Child, and I wondered how I was going to fill in the hour-long interview. She was just starting out—I got to meet her in person, and she was gorgeous,” says Genevieve.
“When I was living in Los Angeles in 2004, I interviewed Lindsay Lohan when she had just starred in Mean Girls, before she started going off the rails. She was so open and friendly and lovely. She loved the Australian accent and asked me to repeat ‘koala bear’ over and over again.
“I also met Tina Fey during that time, but it was so wasted on me. Back then I didn’t know who she was. Since then, I’ve read Bossy Pants and watched her on TV and I’m like ‘Far out, I interviewed Tina Fey’,” she says.
Closer to home, Genevieve has also interviewed Mia Wasikowska, Claudia Karvan, Rachel Griffiths and Jacqueline McKenzie, all of whom found success as actors in Australia and internationally.
“Interviewing Mia Wasikowska was lovely, because she’s also a Canberra girl. She’s just so successful, she was the highest-grossing movie star a few years ago and she’s so chilled,’ says Genevieve.
During her teenage years, Genevieve was watching Rachel in Muriel’s Wedding, Claudia in the Big Steal, and Jacqueline in Romper Stomper. Years later she was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview the women she admired while growing up in the suburbs of Canberra.
“And then you meet them, and they’re my age and they’re super cool. You can imagine hanging out and talking with them—so unaffected,” says Genevieve.
“Anyone who’s willing to have a bit of a laugh and let their guard down makes the best interview, though of course there will always be an element of caution in telling their stories.
“But that’s one of the best things about Sunday Life magazine; we’re not a gossip magazine, our philosophy is about celebrating women rather than tearing them down,” she says.
Last year Bauer Media closed 8 magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and InStyle, citing the coronavirus pandemic and a decline in advertising revenues. It signals the continuing difficulty of making money out of print publications in the digital era.
“I’m still a magazine lover, and the magazine industry has been hit really hard. It’s so lovely to still be part of a magazine, and it’s really well-read. People still buy the Sunday papers and the reach is still about 500,000.
“We’re a small team so editorially it’s mostly Pat Ingram, who is the doyenne of the publishing world, and me and a team of freelancers, which is lovely. It’s great working alongside Pat, she has a real instinct for magazines,” says Genevieve.
Today, Genevieve lives in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and is married to actor Diarmid Heidenreich, with two children, Ivory and Jasper.
“My sister lives in Canberra, she owns Q Hair in Ainslie. I get down there but not as often as I’d like. Canberra has changed so much. It’s so cool! All the restaurants and bars you can go to now. It has such a hip vibe.
“When I tell people I’m from Canberra, I’m a big defender of it, even though I love living in Sydney. People go ‘Oh, Canberra is so boring’. When I ask them when they last went there, it’s like ‘Oh, for Year 6 camp!’ That’s their only experience of Canberra,” she laughs.
“I have very fond memories of Canberra, but Sydney is my home now. And as the Associate Editor of Sunday Life, I have the opportunity to meet and interview amazing women. I love writing a beautiful feature and getting people’s feedback. I enjoy my job so much—I never want to leave,” says Genevieve.